Thursday, August 21, 2014

An Adventure on Amsterdam Avenue

Across the street from the Bristol Farms, where I get my daily lunch of tuna fish, fresh fruit and cottage cheese, there is a medical marijuana dispensary.

I'm not sure of the name.
I know it's not Doug's Weed Store.
It's usually something more affected like Grace, Sunshine, or Herbal Caregivers.

And every day, I see an eclectic cross section of Angelenos go into the store to be given their special care.

It's all so amazingly nonchalant. In fact, today I am in Seattle, where one doesn't even need a "medical affliction" to be "prescribed" a spliff of Blue Haze.

What a far cry from my youth, when we would literally risk life and limb in order to score some Mary Jane.

If I may indulge, one night my buddies and I were loitering around Greenwich Village. There, in the shadow of NYU, we often found dealers willing to relieve us of our hard earned suburban dollars in exchange for a plastic baggie of reefer.

But on this one particular evening we were having no such luck.

"Tuinal. Seconal. Uppers. Downers. Qualudes. you want em, I got em," barked the peddlers under the arch of Washington Square.

We were just four 16 year old boys from Suffern, NY who had no desire to pop pills. We just wanted to get high. And then we ran across two black guys who could help.

They had weed, they explained. Only it was back at their apartment. In Harlem.

That might have bothered or intimidated some, but it didn't phase our buddy Jim, who was as fearless as they come.

"Let's go," he said, pointing to his sea foam green Dodge Dart parked illegally on Bleeker Street.

And with that, Jim was off to 127th street with his two new BFFs.

We waited. We watched the jugglers, the unicyclists, the clowns, the street entertainers who would work hard enough to collect enough coins for the next meal. Or Malt liquor.

One hour turned into two.
Two turned into three.
And our imaginations ran wild.
How would we explain Jim's disappearance to his parents? More importantly, how would we get out of the city without Jim's trusty Dodge? And should we get on an uptown train and start scouring 125th street for our friend?

This last question merited very little discussion.

Just as we lost all hope, Jim arrived, smiling from ear to ear as if he had already sampled the goods.

He showed us the twenty dollar bag, enough to last the rest of the night and keep us laughing the entire ride back to the suburbs. But it didn't. Because most of what was in the little plastic baggie was nothing more than store-bought oregano.

A story born.
A lesson learned.
Caveat emptor.

We never got our "care" from Harlem again.

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